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Pregnancy loss biobank to receive £1.2million in funding

  • Tommy’s Reproductive Health Biobank receives grant from MRC
  • Biobank is most significant collection of reproductive health tissues in the UK
  • Biobank benefits from University of Warwick expertise

Research to help identify women at risk of pregnancy complications is to receive a huge financial boost

logoThe Medical Research Council (MRC) is to give The Tommy's Reproductive Health Biobank a grant of £1.2million.

The biobank will be the most significant collection of reproductive health tissues in the UK. Operating on a virtual basis with its server based at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) and will begin operating on 29 September. It will store biological samples collected by scientists and clinicians at UHCW, the University of Warwick, University of Birmingham, Imperial College, Kings College London, University of Edinburgh and University of Manchester. The tissues, donated by women who have a history of pregnancy problems, and clinical data will help scientists find new causes and cures for miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth.

The biobank benefits from expertise from Tommy's four research centres and scientific teams at the Universities of Warwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, and King’s College London and Imperial College. These centres all have the ability to obtain detailed information about the mechanisms of disease using the latest techniques including sequencing and proteomics, the study of proteins.

Each day in the UK, 2,127 healthy babies are born, however 10 babies are stillborn, 648 are miscarried and 152 babies are born prematurely with a risk of long-term disability. Often clinicians are not able to give couples causes for their pregnancy losses. The aim of the work at the Tommy's Reproductive Health Biobank is to help researchers identify women at high risk of pregnancy complications. This means they can be given appropriate care and new effective interventions can be developed. The samples donated by patients will be linked to medical history and pregnancy outcome as well as to the baby’s health using the latest software technology.

The four Tommy's centre are based in Edinburgh, Manchester, London and the fourth, the National Centre for Miscarriage Research is a partnership of three universities: the University of Warwick, the University of Birmingham, and Imperial College London. The centres collect a wide-ranging variety of samples and will provide the biobank with details of large numbers of women with diverse pregnancy problems, high quality data collection and outcome follow up. This will ensure that samples are of maximum benefit to Tommy's researchers, as well as for others in the field and the wider research community.

Siobhan Quenby is professor of obstetrics at the University of Warwick and honorary consultant at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. She said: “We are delighted that the collaboration between Warwick Medical School, the Institute of Digital Health, WMG and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has led to this success.

“This National Biobank will be led and managed by a collaborative team of myself and Theo Arvanitis Professor of e-Health Innovation and Head of Research at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, at University of Warwick. This team of NHS/University collaboration is enabling the whole speciality of reproductive medicine to move an exciting future where couples who badly want a child will be given treatments, specially engineered for their problem, allowing them to achieve their dream of a healthy baby.”

Jane Brewin, Chief Executive at Tommy's said: "Tommy’s exists to make pregnancy and birth safer for everyone; we still have so much to learn to identify who is at high risk and to personalise our approach to each person and so give them more effective and better care – being awarded this grant moves us one step closer to that goal and is a vote of confidence in the Tommy’s research teams to deliver better antenatal care and the healthy baby that every parent deserves."

3 October 2017


Tom Frew, Senior Press and Media Relations Manager – University of Warwick:

E: a dot t dot frew at warwick dot ac dot uk
M: +44(0)7785433155